CHATHAM — The village held a workshop Thursday October 27to address options for property assessments. The village currently has its own assessor, and properties are also assessed by either the Town of Ghent or the Town of Chatham, because the village straddles the two towns.
One option for the village is to rely only on the assessed values established by each town.
“It’s complicated enough with one assessment,” said Tom Pinto, of the state Department of Taxation and Finance, who was at the meeting with handouts showing how the assessments would work if the village ceased using its own assessor.
Also at the meeting were Town of Chatham Supervisor Jesse DeGroodt, Town Board member Jean Rohde, village Assessor Garth Slocum and former village Mayor Paul Boehme. Mr. Boehme and Mr. Slocum questioned Village Board’s interest in getting rid of the assessor. “I can only see going to the towns is going to cost the village money,” said Mr. Boehme. He said the village would need to work out issues like how to apply the state equalization rates, since the towns are assessed at different rates.
The board agreed it would not be a huge savings to the village to stop conducting its own assessments. Mr. Slocum makes about $1,700 a year, but there would be savings in time of village employees, board members and residents. And by relying only on town assessments, village property owners who wish to grieve their assessments would only have to go to one municipality. Also, village employees would not need to send out bills and there would be no need for a grievance board.
Jeff Novak, a local real estate agent and who also advises the current mayor, Tom Curran, said his clients ask him often about having two assessments on their property and how both can be right. His answer, he said is, “They can’t.”
The Town of Chatham is switching from a panel of three assessors to a sole assessor in January. Mr. DeGroodt said the town wants to even out its assessments with those in Ghent. “Our projected goal is to bring it to 100%,” he said of the town’s assessed value.
Mr. Slocum said that rates are set by the assessor after certain calculations. He worried the towns might not understand the issues in the village. According to Mr. Boehme, 33% of the property in the village is tax exempt. “It’s a crapshoot on who Chatham hires,” said Mr. Slocum of a sole assessor for the town and part of the village.
Suzette Booy of the county’s Real Property Tax Service in Hudson said that the trend in the state is now to consolidate redundant services like the assessors in the village and towns. “The mandates down the road are more consolidation,” she said at the meeting.
Though evening out the taxes in the village will still be an because of the geography that places it in two different towns, Mr. Pinto reminded the people at the meeting that school districts deal with the same issue on an even more complex level, because some school districts cross county lines.
The board does not plan to make any decision on assessment policies at this point. The next village meeting will be Thursday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Tracy Memorial.